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Children's development of long-distance binding in Chinese


This paper examines Chinese children's knowledge of long-distance binding of the bare reflexiveziji (self) and their knowledge of other proforms, namely,taziji (himself) andta (him). The experimental results from previous research and the current study, indicate that only very few children consistently allowziji to be long-distance bound. Based on the suggestion thatziji is covertly local in nature and that long-distance binding is caused by the movement ofziji in Logical Form, two hypotheses concerning children's lack of long-distance binding were tested. Hypothesis 1 states that children moveziji to an adjoined non-argument position in Logical Form. However, since they do not have the ability to transfer referential features from a higher NP to a non-argument position, they do not have long-distance binding. Hypothesis 2 states that children do not moveziji in Logical Form. Sinceziji may only receive, its referential features from a local binder, a long-distance binder is not a possible antecedent for young children. The results of the current study do not totally confirm or disconfirm either hypothesis but raise several theoretical and empirical questions which each hypothesis must answer.

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Chien, Y., Wexler, K. & Chang, H. Children's development of long-distance binding in Chinese. J East Asian Linguis 2, 229–259 (1993).

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  • Young Child
  • Empirical Question
  • Chinese Child
  • Local Binder
  • Theoretical Language